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Living room with curtains.

Best Window Treatment Ideas For Any Style

Lauren Nowacki11-Minute Read
June 22, 2020

Looking for a quick way to freshen up your space without breaking the bank? Sometimes making a simple, small change can instantly update a room’s look and feel. One way to do this (and save money on utility bills, too) is by adding or changing the window treatments in your rooms.

So, what is a window treatment and what kind of options do you have? We’re pulling back the curtain on this long-standing decorating trend and providing tips on how to use it to enhance your space.

Know Your Window Decor Options

A window treatment is a way of sprucing up a window by modifying it or adding a decorative element to it. Not sure what that entails? Here are a few ideas:

Window Additions

Here are things you can add to your windows to make them stand out a little more.

Curtains Or Drapes

Beige curtains over windows.

Often used interchangeably, curtains and drapes are both made from fabric but are two different kinds of window treatments. Curtains are sold in single panels or pairs and typically made of light fabric that allows some light to come through. They are usually less formal and often used with additional fabrics, like a liner or another lighter curtain. They typically extend to just below the windowsill or just above the floor.

Drapes are made of thicker fabric and are typically lined as well. Drapes are typically sold and hung in pairs, are much more formal and, thus, used more for decoration than utility. They also tend to be more expensive than curtains. Drapes usually skim or puddle at the floor.

Since they are made from fabric, curtains and drapes can absorb sound and provide insulation to your home. They’re also easy to install since they hang from a curtain rod.

However, keeping them clean is another story. Since they’re made of fabric, they’re more susceptible to mold and stains if hung in wet or messy environments. They’re also more difficult to clean since you can’t just wipe away dust and dirt. While some can be tossed in the laundry, many require professional cleaning, which can cost money.

Blinds

Sun protection blinds.

Window blinds consist of vertical or horizontal slats, made from various materials and connected by cords, that can tilt open and close to allow light in or block it out. Along with each slat opening and closing individually, the whole set can be raised or lowered as a unit if they’re horizontal or pulled to the side if they are vertical.

There are several advantages of installing window blinds, according to Rachel Hyslop, director of channel marketing at Graber, a premium window treatment company.

You can easily filter as much light as you want by tilting the slats to different angles, she explains, and they are easy to clean since you can usually just wipe them down. Faux wood and vinyl blinds are also ideal for high-humidity environments since they don’t trap water.

But Hyslop does mention one big drawback. “There are fewer clear views [with blinds],” she says, “since homeowners don’t typically raise and lower them, but only tilt the slats.”

Shades

Grey roman shades over double window.

Window shades can be raised and lowered like horizontal blinds but are typically made from one piece of fabric instead of individual pieces.

“Shades are available in a wide variety of styles and materials to meet any decor needs,” says Hyslop.“They can offer solutions for privacy, light filtering and protection from UV rays, too.”

There are several different types of windows shades, but the three popular ones are:

  • Cellular shades, which have a honeycomb design and air pockets that help insulate your window.
  • Roller shades, which are made from one sheet of fabric that rolls around a tube. When the shades are drawn down, the fabric unravels from the tube. When the shades go up, the fabric wraps around the tube.
  • Roman shades, which add a luxurious touch to your window decor by creating soft folds in the shade when they are pulled up.

Whatever shade you choose, there is one drawback. In most cases, there is far less light-filtering flexibility, according to Hyslop. Shades can only be raised and lowered.

They cannot be adjusted for light filtering because they do not have individual slats that can open and shut, which can also make them harder to clean than blinds. There are some options that help with light filtering ability, including sheer and layered shades, but they are still fabric wrapped, which may still make cleaning more difficult.

Window Modifications

Making modifications to the actual window is a more expensive option and is less interchangeable, but it can have a dramatic effect on your space. Here are a few ways to modify your windows to instantly update your design.

Window Tint

Black-tinted windows.

Window tint is a darker, transparent film that’s applied to the inside of a home’s windows. It’s popular in the automotive world, but many homeowners are finding that tinting the windows of their home has its benefits.

“Window tinting has multiple purposes,” says Chris Van Sickle, professional window tinter and owner of TAG – Tintz & Graphx. “It reduces glare, prevents fading on interior furnishings, reduces the amount of heat that comes into the home, helps gain privacy, provides safety and security and blocks 99% of UVA and UVB rays.”

While it comes with several advantages, tinting your windows can void the manufacturer’s warranty on the glass. However, according to Van Sickle, “If your film is installed by a professional window film installer and backed by the window film manufacturer, your glass will be warrantied through the window film manufacturer. So, if the glass cracks or your seals between the panes crack, the window film manufacturer will pay for the new glass and film to be reapplied.”

Having that protection is one great reason to hire a professional to install your tint. There are other reasons, too. “If you apply the wrong film to the glass, the glass could crack or the film could dry out the seals and you will get fogginess between the panes of your glass,” warns Van Sickle. You’ll also want to be careful when cleaning tinted windows, too. While maintenance for this window treatment is simple, Van Sickle cautions against using chemicals with ammonia, which will eat away at the film and cause flaking and discoloration.

Frosted Or Textured Glass

Frosted and textured glass windows.

Frosted and textured glass alters the surface of your window, making it cloudy, opaque and difficult to see through. However, this window modification still allows light to filter through. Etched glass creates a design or pattern, while frosted glass gives an almost ice-covered appearance. Both provide privacy while still providing natural light, but these types of window treatments can obstruct views.

Stained Glass

Stained glass front door.

Most notably used in churches, stained glass is colored pieces of glass arranged to create a design within the window. From a design standpoint, these window treatments add a unique beauty to the home and provide pops of colors to a room – especially when the sun hits them.

But use stained glass with a light hand. Used as a subtle accent piece or focal point, stained glass can be visually stunning, but a room covered in it can come off tacky. It also obstructs your view of the outside and may not lighten a room as much as clear glass does.

If you plan on making modifications to your windows, it’s important to remember that, depending on where you live and the changes you’re making to your windows, you may need to get a building permit or approval by your homeowner’s association. You may also want to notify your neighbors.

Choose The Right Window Treatment For Your Space

“Choosing window treatments can be an overwhelming experience,” says Hyslop, “but we always recommend homeowners begin with one simple question: What is the purpose of the room? Whether it’s a space dedicated to entertaining or for relaxing, the room’s purpose can have a significant impact on the window treatments chosen.”

Based on that consideration, here are a few suggestions for the best window treatments in these common rooms in the home.

Kitchen Window Treatments

Kitchen with white blinds.

The kitchen is a place where things get messy. It’s not the ideal room for fabric window treatments that can stain and absorb cooking smells and smoke.

For this reason, you may want to opt for something that’s easy to clean and doesn’t hold in smells, as curtains and drapes do. Faux wood or vinyl blinds are a good choice for this room.

Living Room Window Treatments

Modern living room with curtains.

“Since the living room is often a high-traffic, high-style room, the recommendations need to be individually tailored to meet the specific function and aesthetic needs of the homeowner,” says Hyslop, who offers a few window treatment ideas.

“Cellular, pleated or Roman shades are available in a variety of fabrics and colors, [so they can] meet any function or fashion needs. Wood blinds create a warm, inviting look and feel, while natural shades with a liner add a beautiful texture and warmth with the added functionality of light filtering.”

If you use your living room for entertaining or formal events, consider drapes, which are made with heavier fabric and offer a more luxurious look and feel. Pair them with curtains so you can get a layered effect that allows you to better filter light.

You may also want to consider tinting these windows since they may be some of the biggest n your home and can block out sun glare on the TV.

Bedroom Window Treatments

Very modern and clean bedroom with curtains.

Bedrooms require choices that are soft and beautiful – while also providing privacy and room darkening,” says Hyslop, who recommends cellular or neutral shades with blackout liners and draperies.

Layer with different styles to add a soft look, while increasing the full-room darkening by ensuring all sources of light are covered,” she says.

Bathroom Window Treatments

Bathroom with frosted window slats.

“Due to the wet and sometimes messy nature of this room, window treatments in the bathroom should be easy to clean and suitable for a high-humidity environment,” says Hyslop. “For this reason, faux wood blinds are an ideal selection for both style and functionality.”

If you want extra privacy without sacrificing natural light, opt for modifying your window with frosted or textured glass, which will blur out any views and maintain your privacy while filtering light through.

Or, like the picture above, combine both and choose frosted glass window slats, also known as jalousie windows, which allow natural light and air into the room without losing privacy. These windows open at a downward angle, so you can allow airflow and see outside, but passersby cannot see into the room.

Whatever room you’re decorating, Hyslop also suggests choosing a window treatment based on where a room is located in relation to the sun.

A room’s exposure to sunlight or heat and cold can also impact the window treatments selected,” she says. “For example, windows facing south or west can have a great deal of sunlight, which may require products like cellular shades to reduce heat transfer.”

Choose The Right Treatment For Your Window Type

A room’s function and location aren’t the only things you want to think about. The types of windows you’re treating also matter.

Window Treatment Ideas For Single- Or Double-Hung Windows

Small, simple bedroom with single hung windows.

“Shades are an ideal option for these types of windows as they are often opened to allow for airflow,” says Hyslop. “Shades are simple to lift and utilize the open window.”

To dress them up a bit, choose patterned shades or ones with decorated hems.

Window Treatment Ideas For Sliding Glass Doors

Vertical blinds over a sliding door.

Photo courtesy of Graber

Vertical blinds are a popular choice for this type of window because they open just like the sliding glass door – by moving to the side. To stick with this natural flow, decorate with a single panel curtain or stacking panels.

Window Treatment Ideas For Bay Windows

Cabin house with bay window.

“Bay windows usually involve at least three to four windows coming together. For that reason, motorized shades are an excellent choice, as they offer a clean look with no hanging wands or cords and can all be synchronized to the same position,” says Hyslop.

Since bay windows are essentially part of one window unit, you’ll want to make sure whatever window decor you choose is uniform for each window.

Window Treatment Ideas For Floor-To-Ceiling Windows

Roller solar shades.

Photo courtesy of Graber

The best part of floor-to-ceiling windows is the incredible views they provide. However, it’s understandable you’ll want the option of more privacy or room-darkening capabilities.

To achieve this, opt for motorized shades, which can go up at the push of a button. Since these types of windows are large, having to manually draw the shades may be cumbersome. Motorized shades may also be programmed to raise and lower with the movement of the sun.

To get the most out of your window views, even with a treatment, Hyslop recommends hiding the shades in an additional feature. “[Use] a cassette valence or facia to fully hide the roll when in a closed position to maximize the window view,” she says.

To add even more drama to an already dramatic view, add floor-to-ceiling drapes that frame your view in lush, thick fabrics.

Window Treatment Ideas For Round Or Arched Windows

Beautiful arched window.

Round and arched windows are typically more for design than they are for everyday use. So, you may not want to cover them up.

A good option here could be a sheer curtain that offers some privacy but still shows off the window’s shape. If the window is small, it may be the perfect place to modify it into a stained glass window.

Explore Window Treatment Trends

Your window treatment ideas may also be influenced by your home decor styles. Is your living room accented with plush, velvet throws and faux fur? Perhaps rich, cascading drapery will add to the opulence. Do you prefer sleek, modern designs? Perhaps you’ll have different window treatment ideas.

Here are a few trends to consider when it comes to choosing your window decorations.

Minimalism

Minimalist living room with dark shades.

If you’re living a minimalist lifestyle, chances are the rooms in your home aren’t filled with the unnecessary. They’re likely free of clutter, with simple and sleek designs.

To make this concept flow into your window treatments, consider shades. Even better, motorized shades remove hanging wands or cords, making the design even cleaner.

Bold Colors And Prints

Bold and colorful ombre curtains.

The great thing about most window treatments is that they are easy to install and can be changed out at any time. That’s one of the reasons you should turn to your window treatments when you want to play with bold colors or prints.

Pops of vivid colors can bring life to neutral-colored rooms and help you show off some personality. You can also use color in your window treatments to draw out the subtle colors of a wall hanging or other accessory in the room. Add bold colors with curtains, drapes or stained glass.

Natural Elements

Natural wood blinds.

Using natural elements in your home decor can help you connect with nature and make a room feel cozier. To do this with your window treatments, hang linen curtains or use blinds or shades made from bamboo or other natural woods. Natural elements work well when using farmhouse decor or creating a spa-like feel.

Eco-Friendly Options

Cellular windows.

Photo courtesy of Graber

There are a few ways you can be eco-friendly when decorating your windows. You can use window treatments that are made from environmentally sustainable natural fibers or recycled materials.

You can also hang window treatments that save energy by providing insulation to block out the cold in the winter and keep the sun’s rays from adding heat in the summer. The window treatments that help with saving energy include cellular shades, thermal curtains and window tint.

Find Your Match

“Window treatments are an excellent way to incorporate style, color, texture and warmth to a room,” says Hyslop. “And because there are so many decor style variations, working with an expert will help you find the solution that meets not only your desired design aesthetic, but also your functionality and budget needs.”

We’ll leave that part to the pros; but if you’re looking for a home with lots of windows to decorate, the home experts at Rocket Homes Real Estate LLC will help you find the perfect place.

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    Lauren Nowacki

    Lauren Nowacki is a staff writer specializing in personal finance, homeownership and the mortgage industry. She has a B.A. in Communications and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.